Will the Lakers Go After Chris Paul?

Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns on July 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.    Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP
Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns on July 17, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP


Speculation is rife about the future prospects of Chris Paul with rumours suggesting the LA Lakers might be the best port of call for the Phoenix Suns point guard, who will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason; that is, if he declines his player option for the upcoming 2021-22 season.


Chris Paul, or just CP3 as he’s nicknamed, is just one of an exceptionally talented pool of players on the precipice of free agency this offseason. And sportsbooks have rolled out futures odds about their potential landing spots for bettors to sink their teeth into.


Players that could be on the market alongside CP3 and parading their wares for the highest bidder include Kawhi Leonard (player option) Kyle Lowry (unrestricted). DeMar DeRozan (unrestricted) and Mike Conley (unrestricted), to name a few. Trade rumours surrounding Ben Simmons from the 76ers also abound while Bradly Beal or Damian Lillard could also be on the docket if they request trades.


With such coveted elite talent flirting with moves, anything is possible. It means CP3 will have competition courting would-be suitors. Never mind the fact that there are likely limited spots available on teams and heads could be turned any which way. Moreover, while many teams would give their right arm for a player of Paul’s calibre under most circumstances, only a few have the cap space to absorb the financial investment and the wherewithal to do a deal.


Of course, CP3 may yet remain with the Suns where he enjoyed a fantastic season by all accounts and reached the NBA Finals. At the start of the NBA regular season, few had the Suns on their NBA picks as a likely Larry O’Brien challenger. Teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Bucks were amongst the early faves and top NBA futures picks. Tale told, the Milwaukee Bucks proved to be the smart bet after all as they clinched the coveted title with a 4-2 series win over the Suns.


Immediately at the close of the NBA finals, Chris Paul was trotted out in the rumour mill as a potential LA Lakers target. On paper, Paul makes sense as he would fill a pressing need the Lakers have. On an inner and emotional level, Paul’s friendship with LeBron James would make the pairing a good one as their off court relationship will likely transcend on to the court and complement nicely what James has already going on with Anthony Davis.


Alas, the financial and logistical reality of such a move happening are slim at best. The Lakers are extended financially. They might not be able to loosen the purse strings no matter how badly they might covet Paul’s services.


On the flipside, a move to LA would require Paul turning down his player option which is in the region of $44.2 million. That’s a lot of money to turn away from in order to try one’s luck in free agency, in particular given Paul is 36 years of age. The 16-year-veteran is no spring chicken.


Perhaps, had the Suns actually won the Larry O’Brien trophy, Paul might have been more tempted to test his market value. Equally, teams might have been more willing to mortgage some of their future for his veteran leadership and experience. However, as it currently stands, it’s hard to see either scenario panning out. Simply put, don’t bet on it at the sports betting exchange.


Paul joining the Lakers would create a so-called Lakers “super team,” not unlike LeBron’s move to Miami Heat many years ago. That in of itself might be appealing. Then again, it might not. Every player is different and how they manage their careers is an individual decision.


All this speculation presupposes Paul wants to move or is amenable to the idea of leaving Phoenix, though everything that we’ve seen from the point guard might suggest otherwise. Paul is well respected in Phoenix. His team and coaching staff haven’t stopped waxing lyrical about his value, experience, leadership,, mentorship over the course of their magical season but also over the years. He’s appreciated. And, in all fairness, the feeling does appear to be mutual.


Paul likes his set up in Phoenix where he’s had most success in his career. Throughout the season, Paul has had nothing but love for his teammates, stressing how much it means to him to be playing for Monty Williams alongside Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder. If those sentiments were genuine – which by all accounts they are – the likely outcome in this offseason is Paul remaining put.


To look at the NBA betting odds board is to see the Phoenix Suns priced inside the Top 5 in NBA futures for the upcoming season. As per Draftkings, the Suns are priced at +1500 along with the Utah Jazz, which puts them fifth overall after the Brooklyn Nets (+200), LA Lakers (+600), Golden State Warriors (+900) and Milwaukee Bucks (+950).


Officially, NBA free agency kicks off on August 2 at 6 p.m. ET. Teams are allowed to start negotiations with free agents at that time, though the reality is that in most cases many of those preliminary conversations have already happened. The moment the dial moves to 6:01 p.m. ET next Monday, announcements are sure to start trickling in shortly thereafter with regards to verbal agreements that are either close to being made or made. Not until August 6 at 12:01 p.m ET can deals be actually signed.

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